True West

Ah parenthood.

Is there a more defining moment in the Father/Daughter cultural exchange than when you sit upon couch next to the kid and she starts watching her favorite show….

....wha tha? Did the tubby one just wipe her ass on TV?!
….wha tha? Did the tubby one just wipe her ass on TV?!

Alright, alright–we get it—the lead chick is big and beautiful, proud of her body and all that.
But still, would it kill her to put a shirt on when I’m trying to eat my Pasta Puttanesca on a Sunday evening, hmmm?

Listen, if this wistful peek into the world of young woman in the city is based mainly on Lena Dunham stomping around the apartment naked and cussing like a neutered GG Allin, so be it.
Just don’t expect Dad to sit there and listen to this crap—-I’m going upstairs with my Huell Howser dvds yo!

You try to raise your children right.
The rule was: For every track she would download off Itunes I got to choose one for her as well.
And her ipod was soon filled not only with Miley and Demi Lavato, but also Cramps and Rezillo tracks….it takes a village!

But soon enough, when they go off into the brutal wilderness of High School and beyond, they are attacked on all sides by terrible, terrible influence.

Forget the bullying and drug abuse, I’d like to know who’s suggesting they all get tickets for the goddamn 311 concert huh?!

Oh my gosh, they're white kids! I thought it was a bunch of Rastas straight outta Kinsgton!
Oh my gosh, they’re white kids! But them heavy grooves—–
I thought it was a bunch of Rastas straight outta Kinsgton!

And then comes the sterile little Itunes receipt in your inbox, and the following texts (our preferred method of communication these days-much easier to ignore teenage sarcasm through Helvetian-font alphabetical character ) look something like this:

Dad: ??
Kid: yeah popop..?
Dad: Um, this bill I have here..wish to explain?
Kid: U said I could buy a whole album!
Dad: Yes, but..Sublime? really? Do you know how old that goddamn album is?
Kid: LOL
Dad: And am I hallucinating here, or is there a Blink 182 song on my account?
Kid: Their so good!
Dad: THEY’RE……and yuck.

I can almost hear her eyes rolling across cellular connection…..all is lost.

So it was quite the shocker when I received this text last week:

Kid: Hey da–that song True West? IS that U? I like it-
Dad: who is this?
Her: LOL–is that you? it’s good–it dzznt sound like you!
Me: Gee-thanks…?

But it sends me to the internet, and sure enough there it is on YouTube, where more than one wag has seen fit to somehow digitize this song and post it up for the world to hear:

We reported to Mad Dog studios in Venice, oh, let’s call it late winter 1984?

Having been left adrift for a season since fulfilling our Posh Boy contract and letting our glorious hair grow out beyond the approved hardcore standards, we’d come to an agreement with scrappy Enigma Records to lay down some magic.

Around this time, there were a lot of burnt out punkers out there in the wilds of Southern California.
Jaded veterans of the music biz at the age of 23, wandering the burnt out club scene for a spark of the past like post apocalyptic Zombies fighting over the last gray fragment of brain.

And Enigma was right there, with open arms, allowing us all to commit to vinyl and film the embarrassments that would haunt us ad infinitum.
The what? Internet ya say? Never heard of it–hah!

...ah jeezus--the Aqua Net is getting to 'em!
…ah jeezus–the Aqua Net is getting to ’em!

A good crew, we now had Jay Lansford in the band full time, easing us into a world where the guitars were not always distorted and pegged, where the lyrics were not always screamed…..and the hair looked fabulous!

Banging on the drums around this time was wildman Mat Young, who besides having such awesome Pokemon’ styled locks was one of the greatest drummers ever.

..and this was before anime' was such a big deal with the kids!
..and this was before anime was such a big deal with the kids!

On tour Mat’s good looks kept the girls close, just wanting to cuddle him and take him home to give him a hot bath…..

And when Mat would inevitably run away due to his shyness and a girlfriend back home, well, I guess old Uncle Kimm was right there to pick up the pieces, eh ladies?!

1984: CH3 version 2.1
1984: CH3 version 2.1

At the helm in studio was rock solid Dusty Wakeman at the knobs and the nutty man about town, Ron Goudie acting as producer.

Ron living the good life in Amsterdam--And I mean, really, the good life!
Ron living the good life in Amsterdam–And I mean, really, the good life!

And so in just a few nights we lay down those tracks that would eventually become the Airborne EP—-unanimously agreed upon as our declaration of mutiny aboard the sinking S.S. Hardcore!


But I sit there, and give it my first listen in a decade I guess.

The drums swing, Mat actually playing a song on those skins.
Some different things going on, now, in terms of guitar as a condiment instead of a porterhouse.
Some jangly accents, and empty spaces where the song is allowed to breathe– this was new stuff to us!

I have to type out the lyrics, reloading the track over and over, as I can’t find any trace of them: Any copies of the ep with lyric sheet intact have been sacrificed to attic or Ebay long ago.

And though I cringe a bit as I dictate the over-earnest lyrics, thematically cliché’ as they come, I can somehow forgive my 23 year old self for being focused enough to jot down an idea that somehow fits the music:

True West (Lansford,Magrann)

I never took a dime, My eyes were clear and blue
Wanted nothing more, Than Love and God and Truth

You wait for dreams, you work toward goals
I’ll pay with youth, I’ll sell my soul

Followed setting suns, Knew my wrongs from rights
Funny how it all Turns dark as country night

I never knew what morals were
Until I realized I had none

True West…
They never tell the truth about frontiers
Another dream is tossed to the Sea

Had my fill of lies. And California dreams
Ain’t that how life works-It’s never what it seems

From airline windows
Oceans glow blue and green, you know…
From the beach they’re dark as sin

True West, I’m standing on the coast again
True West, I’ll never be the same again
They never tell the truth about frontiers
Another dream is tossed to the Sea

I like it!

And who knows, as we climb on the stage next, armed with our setlist of 30 year old songs and stale stage banter, we might just surprise ya.

And in between playing Manzanar and Got a Gun for the twelve thousandth time, we may just turn the guitars down 2 notches, and give it a whirl….

Dad: Yeah, that’s us—cool
Kid: I thought you guys were punk..?
Kid: But it’s not fast like wot you play…?

Dad: ….sigh.

My dinner with Shithead


The band is done with their first encore and Joey takes a step back to drink some beer and wipe some sweat–
Here’s my chance, I’m thinking. Time to go up there and rouse the crowd.
Get one more song out of em, let them know how we really feel about the mighty goddamn D.O.A. !!

I’m thinking I’ll quote a little Rimbaud, something about golden chains across the stars, maybe tell these yokels how, yeah, we might’ve lost Ramone and Strummer, but we’re left with one good true Joe: Shithead!

And then Joey will tear up, of course, and we’ll say our goodbyes right there on stage , 2 big lugs hugging it up, all sweaty brows and Newcastle-soaked shirts.


It’s the Valley on a Superbowl Sunday night, of all things, and we’re a tad burnt from the night before:
A quick jaunt down to the Brick in San Diego to meet up with D.O.A. with all good intentions of keeping things easy.
You know, catch up with Joe and get the lowdown on this farewell business, maybe a few sane cocktails before our warmup set, catch the band and be in our motel beds in time for SNL—har!

Brick by Brick, San Diego
Brick by Brick, San Diego

It turns into a beer dripping night down South, of course, a hazy thing recalled through bizarre images: Wolf head shirts and double guitars hung around necks ala Rick Nielsen.

The Spirit Animal guises us through the night!
The Spirit Animal guides us through the night!







We got there early for soundcheck (….theirs, not us ya silly goose-we obviously have not soundchecked since 1984!) and load in: rainy Saturday evening.
Have’t seen Joe and the fellas for a year or so, and it’s good to catch up for a few ticks in the quiet of the club before the nights’ inherent shenanigans unfold.

Joey explained that he was taking an indefinite break from the band, there was a chance now for some real action, something about a real shot at getting a spot on the Legislative Assembly with the BC New Dems…..
(Hell, I don’t know— what am I, goddamn Mike Wallace? Check Andy Nystrom’s awesome blog for details on Joe’s political plans)

I hint that perhaps this might not really be the end of the line, hmmmm?, but when he tells me of the recent sale of the rugged War Wagon tour van (mileage, a conservative 800k!), I know he is sincere about his new political chores before him–best of luck man!

If any of you have the means to go vote for the man, I’d say by all means, do it!
We’ve known a lot of characters in our time out there, and one constant of swinging back through town every couple years is change.
Seems like every straight edged vegan who was running the Anarchist Food Co-op last time through is now a junkie with mascara and surviving on AmPm hotdogs….

But Joe has always stood behind the talk, God Love him, and shamed us in a good way to recycle those beer cans, pick up that goddamn cigarette butt, and hey! maybe eat a salad now and then, huh?
We’re gonna miss him out on there!


We’ve crossed paths so many times, and it’s always been our very real pleasure to play with the men of DOA:
Different incarnations, rowdy gigs with Chuck Biscuits and Dave Gregg in the band, Dimwit on bass, Dimwit on drums.
The band as a 4 piece of 3, it didn’t matter as long as Joe was up there, legs wide, eyes straight ahead, singing the truth!

Charlie Harper, Pete Dee, Joey Shithead: Do not stand in the way of hungry seniors!
Chow line @ Warped Tour 2010 Charlie Harper, Pete Dee, Joey Shithead: Do not stand in the way of hungry seniors!

A blizzardy New Year’s Eve, 1982, and we’ve gathered in NYC for a big Punk a Rama gig at Irving Plaza.
We scored an opening slot on a bill with Misfits, The Big Boys, D.O.A., last minute to salvage a cancelled UK tour with Blitz.

We play a shaky set on borrowed gear, still rattled by the red eye flight and the incessant taunting from Doug Holland.
And then the sound is cut and the lights come up: Nobody’s getting paid, apparently!

The turnout is bad and the promoter has left the building.
The bands are all grumpy: Biscuit is counting heads of those who paid, Danzig and Doyle looking around like they’re sizing up various bar utensils to use as weapons.
We all complain about the weather.
But in come the DOA boys, all flannels and Sorels, looking like lumberjacks who just enjoyed a game of street hockey on the black ice of 15th Street: They did.

And then we all adjourn to A7 for some late night drinks, Joe telling us jolly tales of just driving 2000 wintry miles, avoiding horny moose all the way, for this abandoned gig.
But what ya gonna do?
Joe gets up from the bar and sizes up the tiny stage, and soon they’re setting up for a late night set, the New Year salvaged.

Weber's Bar, Reseda
Weber’s Bar, Reseda



We get to the club late, having spent the day on the couch alternately snoozing and rousing to see the 49er’s blow the big one through inane coaching.

It’s out to the Valley for our last gig with the mighty DOA. It’s bittersweet to be having a last visit backstage and we really don’t feel like drinking again…but, oh, we do!




And then those fearsome Canucks climb the stage one more time, Joe counts it off, and on downbeat, a beer goes sailing through the air and baptizes the crowd for a last visit with the man!





It’s a loud sweaty set, people singing along with the songs and shouting out requests:
Fucked Up Ronnie! The Prisoner! …..War!
Kids are slipping around in the pit, falling on their asses for all the lager that has been sloshed out of the pitchers held aloft in cheer.
It’s a fitting sendoff, just another Sunday night for a band that has traveled a million miles, one last trick: to make a blah Sunday night into something fine, communal and rousing, a night of smiles and hugs.

It’s time for my farewell toast to the band, and as Joe turns his back to tune up I jump up on the stage.
But when I stumble to the microphone, the Bushmills we’ve been nipping on all night kicks in, and my eloquent goodbye turns out to be:
“Blah! Fuck! Come on!!- WOOOO!”

There are immediate beer cups flying at my head and the chant Get off the stage Jethro!, but I am not to be denied.
Our long road with these gentlemen has apparently come to an end.

And so I can only spread my arms wide, as if to encompass the whole fuckin’ thing that we’ve all been through and shout out, “Don’t you understand? It’s D.O.A.!!”


Many thanks to and BigWheelMedia for the awesome live shots!